Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn
Publication Date: April 2013
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Source: France Book Tours/Author 

              A Spear of Summer Grass Synopsis

Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savanna manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming—yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders—and dangers—of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for—and what she can no longer live without. [sex and violence present but not graphic]

A Spear of Summer Grass is set in the 1920's where scandal can easily have a woman sent away due to the embarrassment to herself and her family. Delilah falls into this situation through her impulsive, selfish and immoral choices deemed unacceptable for a woman during this time period. Delilah is not a likeable character initially her experiences change her and allow her heart to be opened as she forced to face her fears. She is sent to Africa, which is nothing like the posh surroundings she is used to in Paris or England. She is a glamorous and beautiful woman who brings her finery with her to a country full of danger, culture and politics. She finds new social connections with expats whom she knows some of them and creates her own lifestyle without fear of repercussions.  She experiences the beauty of the land, the people, the tribes and the animals and learns to appreciate the amazing landscape full of wild animals and folklore. She continues to be wild and carefree and morally her choices continue to put her in trouble. She learns through the danger and fear that she can open her heart to Africa and the love she feels she does not deserve. 

This is the first book that I've read by Deanna Raybourn who has a gift for writing about complex characters, surroundings and the setting in Africa was stunning. Highly recommended. 

Author bio:

As a sixth-generation native Texan, I grew up in San Antonio, where I met my college sweetheart. I married him on graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation when I was twenty-three, I wrote my first novel. After three years as a teacher, I left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.
Fourteen years and many, many rejections after my first novel, I signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.

"Sex, lies and awesome clothing descriptions" is how one reader described my debut novel, Silent in the Grave,published in 2007. The first in the Silent series, the book follows Lady Julia Grey as she investigates the mysterious death of her husband with the help of the enigmatic private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. From the drawing rooms of the aristocracy to a Gypsy camp on Hampstead Heath, Silent in the Grave was my love letter to Victorian London.
The series continues with the second book, Silent in the Sanctuary (2008), a classic English country house murder mystery with a few twists and turns for Brisbane and Lady Julia along the way, while the third book, Silent on the Moor (2009), is set in a grim manor house on the Yorkshire moors. My favorite part of writing Moor was getting to spend time in Yorkshire, one of the most wildly beautiful places I have ever been.

March 2010 saw a departure from the series with the release of The Dead Travel Fast, a mid-Victorian Gothic thriller that chronicles the adventures of novelist Theodora Lestrange as she leaves the safety and security of her Edinburgh home for the dark woods and haunted castles of Transylvania. I returned to Lady Julia and her companions with Dark Road to Darjeeling (October 2010), this time delving into my most exotic setting yet in the foothills of the Himalayas. The fifth series book, New York Times bes
tseller The Dark Enquiry (July 2011) saw Lady Julia back in her beloved London again, while a digital holiday novella, Silent Night (November 2012) highlighted the March family festivities at Bellmont Abbey.

But 2013 introduces a new setting to my work—1920s British East Africa. In A Spear of Summer Grass (May 2013), disgraced flapper Delilah Drummond is sent to Africa to weather the storm of her latest scandal. There she meets Ryder White, a local legend for more reasons than one—and the perfect man to teach her about the continent he loves. Ryder was introduced to readers in the digital prequel novella Far in the Wilds (March 2013).

 I am thrilled that 2014 will see another 1920s release, City of Jasmine (May 2014), and I am hard at work on my next project in my little pink study in Virginia with a doodle draped over my feet as I write.

You can find me blogging a few days a week at Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter, check out my contests and book trailer videos, and find me on Twitter and Facebook

Check out the tour schedule for A Spear of Summer Grass through France Book Tours and enter the giveaways to win a copy of the book. 

© Copyright 2013- All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands & Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: Ebook/Kindle 457 pages
Source: France Book Tours/Author

The Promise of Provence Synopsis
June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves overlooked by ancient hilltop villages. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

The Promise of Provence takes the reader through a myriad of emotions and experiences and visual and sensory experiences as we travel from Canada to France. Katherine has had a major life changing experience in her mid fifties and her world has literally shifted after her husband shocks her with news of wanting a divorce. Katherine's life appeared happy and perfect to her at home and at work.  In time, with the help of her family and friends, Katherine is able to make positive life changing decisions that bring about experiences in her life that are ever changing. 

As a reader, the strongest parts of the book are the travels Katherine takes  through Provence and other parts of France. As Katherine faces her deepest fears of being alone she finds she is truly not alone and the world opens up to her. The scenes of the fields of Provence, the villages, vineyards, markets and coastal towns made me want to be right there alongside Katherine. As a reader, these scenes were the strongest for me as I could imagine them and visualize them in my mind as I read. I have not been to Provence, although I yearn to go there now! I have been to Paris and have beautiful memories and would love to go back. 

Katherine learns to love, experience life and open herself up to the beauty surrounding her in the world. She must take chances as she chooses to use a home exchange program to live in Provence which opens up another opportunity for another home exchange in France. She has to face loss, learn to be independent, and to trust again. 

This is truly a beautiful novel with the settings in France and travels that we are taken through as a reader. I highly recommend The Promise of Provence for those who like to travel, or armchair travel as I did. I also recommend this book for those who enjoy a strong story about a woman finding herself and her independence as well as friendships and a touch of romance! 

The author, has a surprise at the end for readers to be personally involved in finding out more about Katherine this fall. I found this a very fun & unique idea and was excited to participate in the experience...we do have to wait until fall but it will be worth the wait!! 

Author bio:
Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France. With a focus on women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, she has heard from readers ages 20 to 83. 
Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010.

Her second novel, The Promise of Provence is an Amazon Hot New Release as of April 2013.

Pop in to visit her at:

GIVEAWAY: Complements of France Book Tours, I have a gift to share for one lucky winner to win a $10 Gift Card to Amazon. You can easily purchase The Promise of Provence and The Bridge Club or whatever you choose!

Please leave a comment below to be entered and make sure to leave your email address so that I can contact the winner.

Giveaway ends July 15, 2013

 © Copyright 2013- All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
June 2013
Format: Ebook/Kindle or paperback 544 pages
Source: Publisher, Netgalley

About The Firebird from Sourcebooks:

Two Women.
One Mysterious Relic.
Separated By Centuries.
Nicola Marter was born with a gift so rare and dangerous, she kept it buried deep. When she encounters a desperate woman trying to sell a small wooden carving called "The Firebird," claiming it belonged to Russia's Empress Catherine, it's a problem. There's no proof.
But Nicola's held the object. She knows the woman is telling the truth.

The She Reads July Book Club Selection is The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley. This is my first month participating in the She Reads book club and what a great start it has been with the July selection of The Firebird. I had not read Susanna Kearsley's work before this, although I do have several books in my kindle library and a few on my bookshelf waiting to be read. The July book club pick gave me a chance to read my first book by Kearsley. I did know that The Firebird had characters from other books by Kearsley and that The Firebird is the second book in The Slains series with The Winter Sea being the first book. For me, this did not detract from the novel and it was easily read as a stand alone book. I loved her style of writing with authentic historical fiction and a touch of paranormal, romance and gothic added to the mix.

The Firebird weaves a story between past and present and takes the reader on a journey between current day and the 18th century Russian historical time period. I enjoyed how the author linked the present story line through the modern  story with Nicola and Rob who are old friends and have unresolved romantic feelings from the past and are connected by their psychometric abilities. They are able to learn about an objects past by touching it and then can visually travel back in time to learn more. This is how Nicola and Rob trace back in time the history and story behind the firebird. Nicola seeks out Rob, to help her find the truth behind the firebird and they also have to deal with their feelings for each other. In the past, historical part of the novel we learn about Anna and her story as she travels as a young girl with uncertain family ties through Scotland, Ireland and then to Russia. Anna and Rob follow her travels through these times in hopes of revealing the mystery surrounding the firebird. There were a few nice twists at the end of the book with Anna's part of the story. I had suspected them in the back of my mind but had pushed them away as unlikely. It was nice to see some parts of the story wrapped up and others left to the imagination. 

As a reader, I appreciated learning that The Firebird was based on real life characters that Kearsley had researched. I found this part of the book most interesting as at the end of the book, Kearsley writes about the real life characters and the historical connections written about in The Firebird. 

I would highly recommend The Firebird if you are looking for a historical fiction novel written with a beautiful story and strong characters. The Firebird will sweep you up in time, and as a reader, you will travel from past to present in settings such as England, Scotland, Ireland and Russia.  I definitely plan to read more of Kearsley's books and am fortunate to have several to choose from. 

You can read more about the author, read the first chapter and sample the audiobook of The Firebird on Susanna Kearsley's website

The July Book Club Selection & Giveaway from She Reads 
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Make sure to check out the She Reads website and enter the giveaway  courtesy of Sourcebooks. They are giving away copies of The Firebird. One of the lucky winners will also win four other Susanna Kearsley novels.    Go to the She Reads website and leave a comment for your chance to win! 

 © Copyright 2013- All Rights Reserved

Google Reader Gone...Bloglovin or Feedly?

For some reason, I thought that Google Reader would not be gone until later in July. I had signed up with Feedly and transferred my Google reader there but there were issues and now it seems that all my information from Google reader is gone. I just signed up with Bloglovin and have to figure things out. I sure wish that Google Reader had stuck around and made life easier! I may have lost a lot of information on blogs that I was following and may need to start over.  

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